“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
As we celebrate two of the greatest pillars of the early church today; Saints Peter and Paul, our readings today are basically set on a tone of encouragement. The life of Saints Peter and Paul teach us that the Christian life is tough, full of challenges and hardships, yet, it contains a lot of great rewards if we do not give up. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul describes the Christian life as a fight and a race. It is not a fight against flesh and blood (people), but a fight against sin and evil as such it requires a dress code; the belt of truth, the shield of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and so on. (Cf. Ephesians 6:13-18).
The Christian life is also race; a race to be perfect as God is perfect. Just as “athletes exercise self-control in all things to receive a perishable wreath,” we must discipline ourselves to win the imperishable crown of glory. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). From the experience of Peter, we learn that the Christian life involves active listening to the Holy Spirit. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mathew 16:17). For his ability to hear from God, Peter was made the head of the Church; a task that did not come without its unique cross and challenges.
One thing that marks out the life Peter and Paul was their unstoppable zeal for evangelization. They were ready to sacrifice everything (including their own lives) for the sake of God. They suffered a lot but God never abandoned them. On many occasions, they received Angelic visitations and even miraculous deliverance from the hands of their enemies as we see in today’s first reading.
Do you feel called to this kind of life? Let nothing discourage you. It is not an easy life, it is tough and strenuous but at the same time, it is sweet and beautiful. God will always be there to guide and direct you. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, like Peter and Paul, use me to continue this great work. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 12:1-11, Psalm 34, 2nd Timothy 4:6-18, Matthew 16:13-19).